Positive Video Game Play: How to Find the Right Balance for You

March 12, 2020

Video games connect us in a way unlike any other medium. In an “always on” society, the universal power of play is more important than ever—bringing people together, relieving stress, creating new friendships, and inspiring for the future. That’s what makes the Game Generation community so special.

Even so, too much of any good thing can compromise a well-rounded lifestyle. That’s why our industry puts easy-to-use tools and protections in place for players and parents. At the end of the day, only you know what’s right for you and your family.

Industry Tools to Help Manage Game Play

Game habits  can look different from one family to another. Even so, parents should always feel confident when it comes to what—and how—their children play.

When it comes to guiding parents on how to best manage the games their kids play, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) sets the standard for the video game industry. In addition to suggesting which games and apps are age-appropriate and describing the nature of their content, the ESRB rating system notifies consumers about Interactive Elements. The “Users Interact” notice, for example, lets parents know when games include online interaction (user generated content, user-to-user communications, media sharing, etc.). The ESRB also assigns an “In-Game Purchases” notice to let parents know which video games offer the ability to purchase additional content in the game.

With parental controls, parents can also manage game play effectively—even when they’re not in the room. These easy-to-use controls are built into all video game consoles, allowing families to create accounts for children, restrict or block online interactions with other players, limit or block in-game spending, screen time, and access to only age-appropriate content based on the ESRB assigned Rating Category. You can find step-by-step instructions on how to do all of the above at ParentalTools.org.

Individual companies are also doing their part to ensure the well-being of all players. Some of our member companies build features directly into their games to remind players to take a break after extended game play. And the industry continues to invest in tools to detect toxic or harmful behavior in online games, including systems that allow players to report and/or block users acting inappropriately.

By continually listening to feedback from players and parents, our industry is committed to making sure video games remain a positive and fun part of our lives.

An Engaged Game Generation

We’re proud to say that these protections are working. Parents trust and use the ESRB: 83% of parents are confident ESRB ratings are accurate and 77% of parents regularly check ESRB ratings when making purchasing decisions. Video game players also report positive results across key health indicators. Of the more than 164 million American adults who play video games, more than three-quarters report that game play provides them with mental stimulation (79%) as well as relaxation and stress relief (78%).

Offline, research shows that video game players are just as likely to engage in exercise, take camping or hiking trips, and sleep the same amount at night as the average American. What’s more, video game players are more likely than the average American to engage in activities positively associated with health and well-being, such as having a creative hobby, meditating regularly, being vegetarian, and playing a musical instrument.

In this way, it’s clear that balanced game play is an essential part of the Game Generation community. By understanding and using the tools and protections available, we can all continue to enjoy a balanced relationship with game play – whatever that means for us.